It’s been a busy few years for on-track plant hire specialists Total Rail Solutions (TRS). After investing millions of pounds in reliable, new equipment as part of its aggressive growth strategy, the company announced the successful completion of a management buy-out in November, with new owners taking over from founders Martin Mould and Julie Caldwell.
Former chief operating officer Paul Bateman was promoted to chief executive officer in the change of hands, and now leads TRS with the rest of the senior management team.
Three key focuses
TRS’ three key operational enablers are its plant, processes and people.
Over the course of five years, more than £15 million has been invested in the first element – it now has a fleet of more than 80 machines.
Now, at the beginning of a new control period, TRS is focused on the other two as part of its “new journey of growth and investment,” as Paul explained.
A lengthy process to recruit half a dozen new members of staff in operations, business development as well as in accounts and finance is almost complete. The new recruits will address specific weaknesses in the team to strengthen the company’s 300-strong workforce. Behind the scenes, digitising back systems to improve efficiency and drive cost savings is now a key activity.
“Currently, a lot of what we do is based on Excel, which has been fine up until now but obviously we want to grow the business, to streamline processes and put systems in place to enable us to transfer information from site to office and office to site, to boost efficiency across the business,” said Paul, who has been with TRS since December 2016.
“We’ve gone through a round of investment back in November and we’ve completed the management buy-out now. So the focus for the next six to 12 months is to be looking at the business and professionalise things – that means introducing new systems to enable us to scale, a big push on recruitment too, but all while trying not to lose the company ethos that has got us to where we are today.
“We’ve got to where we are by being reactive. We also work very closely with our clients and that relationship is key. So, there is always a balance between trying to grow the business but remain ahead of our competitors by doing what we do well – provide a quality service, react quickly and all with an attention to detail.”
Third year running
Three is also the number of years that TRS has consecutively sponsored the Rail Team of the Year category at the RailStaff Awards.
Last year’s ceremony, with its enchanted theme at Birmingham’s NEC, was Paul’s first show, and what he saw was enough to dazzle him and make TRS one of the first few companies to commit its support for 2019.
He said: “We see the benefit in working with the RailStaff Awards. It was my first year last year and it was a very good event.
“We had two tables of 10 and took a mixture of clients and office staff. It was a good venue and the entertainment was fantastic as well, it was quite a good mix of awards and post show celebrations.
“I think it’s a good forum to get everyone together at the end of the year and recognise what the industry does and the good people we’ve got in it. And from our point of view – and I know it’s a bit cliché to say – we get to where we are by being a good team, which is why we sponsor the Rail Team of the Year.”
Last year’s Rail Team of the Year Award was won by the project SWIFT (superfast wi-fi in-carriage for future travel) team – a cross-industry team made of Network Rail, Cisco, telent and ScotRail.
After years of talking about using trackside equipment to improve digital connectivity onboard trains, the team proved it can be done on an operational railway. As a result, ScotRail customers between Edinburgh and Glasgow have been the first in the UK to experience on train wi-fi at broadband speeds.
The category attracts entries from different types of teams working on different types of projects and is one that highlights the variety of activity that goes on in the industry. It does, however, make it a tricky category to pick a winner from.
Paul added: “It’s difficult to say what makes a good nomination because you get such a broad selection of teams. It could be anyone from the British Transport Police to someone who has implemented an IT system. No two nominations are the same.”
To find out more or nominate a colleague in one of 20 categories, head to: www.railstaffawards.com